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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Personnel, county residents plead for Sheriff Office pay raises

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — Sheriff Greg Capers, as well as most of this department, along with county residents, put forth an impassioned plea to the San Jacinto County Commissioners’ Court on March 23 for more pay, as Capers said his staffing levels have dropped significantly and is creating an emergency situation in the county.

Charissa Arizpe, a resident of the county, said that in her eyes, heroes are first responders, the military, veterans and single moms, but she is deeply concerned about the state of the Sheriff’s Office.

“We are in incredibly dangerous times, and the very heart of our nation is under attack,” she said. “Law enforcement is the first line of defense.”

Arizpe said that staffing issues have been a problem for a long time, and pay levels are at the heart of it. She cited two deputies that recently left employ because of higher wages at the Coldspring-Oakhurst school system.

“I would say today that we are in an emergency situation that calls for immediate action,” she said.

She also said that consideration of raises comes at the right time, since the county begins budget deliberations in May.

“We can all agree that the safety of human life should be at the top of the county’s priority list,” Arizpe said. “The county has grown 10.62 percent since the last census, and we have failed to meet that grown with providing suitable members of law enforcement.

“In short, we have been measured and found wanting,” she said.

Arizpe pointed to the recent shooting death of Deputy Neil Adams, who was killed while working a second job to make ends meet.

“How is it that men and women in this county are asked to work in an area that involves life and death for pay that is the equivalent of working at Hobby Lobby?” she asked.

County Judge Fritz Faulkner said that the county doesn’t give raises in the middle of the budget year, but is considering using grant funds for raised. He also said that when raises are given, they’re usually given to all employees, not just one department. 

As he was about to be questioned, Faulkner denied any more comment from Arizpe, saying she had her turn.

Capers said that as of last week, he is down 20 positions; Faulkner pointed out that the sheriff has the positions, just no applicants. However, Capers said that pay scales at other entities has made it extremely difficult to hire new employees and keep existing ones.

“We’re in an emergency right now,” he said. “Our jail can technically be shut down because we don’t have the correct manpower.”

County Commissioners to a man commiserated with the crowd, even asking them if they had complained to the school board about what they’ve done in hiring away deputies and having a tax rate that supports it.

County resident Sheena Bass told commissioners that was beside the point.

“Don’t talk about things that shouldn’t be talked about,” Bass said. “Talk about what we’re requesting for our police force, for our families, for our children, for their protection.”

While no action was taken on a motion by Commissioner Donnie Marrs pushing a $2,000 raise, Faulkner said they will have to seek an opinion from the Attorney General on whether the county can spend its money as they see fit.

In other business, the county:

•approved transferring $156,250 in grant funds to PB&SC Water for improvements;

•tabled a vote on an engineer for construction of a new Sheriff’s dispatch office;

•approved Langford Engineers for administration of a hazard mitigation grant;

•approved hiring Bleyl Engineering for work on the hazard mitigation grant;

•approved designating a printer as surplus;

•approved the rehire of Charles Doughtery for the SJCSO;

•approved amending buyout guidelines to use pre-Harvey valuations;

•tabled a request for funds for the Trinity County Food Bank; and

•approved $4,256 for underground electrical service to be run to a proposed animal control center.

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Miracles - High schoolers become angels

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The Lady Pirates and their charges gather for a game.The Lady Pirates and their charges gather for a game.

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — The Lady Pirates pulled off a miracle on the mound, but not during a game.

The “Mound Miracles” team consists of players that may never otherwise have the opportunity to feel what it’s like being the one on the field getting cheered for. 

Shepherd ISD, the Shepherd community, and the Shepherd Youth League have come together to make sure every child is awarded the opportunity to be included. All people, including those with a disability, have value and are respected and welcomed. 

Shepherd Intermediate School Assistant Principal De Richardson and her husband, Justin, have not only brought this opportunity to the district, but have been the best coaches these kids could ask for. We hope this sets the foundation for many, many more years to come.

Shepherd ISD would like to give a big thank you to the Shepherd High School varsity softball team and Coach Suzon Martin and her staff for coming to help out with the Shepherds Youth League-Angel Division.

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School board celebrates excellence

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COHS Culinary Arts students from Monday night, pictured with Instructor Chef Joel Casiday, from left: Ryan Allison, Lilly Warwick, and Eddie Brown. Photo by Cassie GregoryCOHS Culinary Arts students from Monday night, pictured with Instructor Chef Joel Casiday, from left: Ryan Allison, Lilly Warwick, and Eddie Brown. Photo by Cassie Gregory

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Board of Trustees celebrated excellence during the regular school board meeting on Feb. 28.

Coldspring-Oakhurst High School Culinary Arts students prepared and served staff and school board trustees a meal of chile chicken verde with cilantro lime rice, charro beans, and tres leches cake before the meeting began.

The meeting kicked off with the pledges of allegiance led by Coldspring Intermediate students Bella Gray and Kayley Plock, introduced by CIS Principal Paula McClendon. 

Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Joel Casiday and Law Enforcement Instructor Dr. Kim Webb introduced their students who won awards at the recent SkillsUSA contest and will be advancing to the state competition, which will be held in Corpus Christi on March 31-April 2. 

“Tinley Reid, Ryan Allison, Lilly Warwick, and Brittany Hartley competed in the Commercial Baking Job Exhibit. They baked a commercial-quality good and presented it in a 2x2 display with a Disney theme,” Casiday said. “Students chose a Disney movie, then based their baked goods off of an element, theme, or food found within the movie. Our students selected ‘Brave’, ‘Aladdin,’ ‘Tinkerbell,’ and ‘Moana.’ They all won blue ribbon awards for their efforts and will advance to state.

“Ethan Manshack competed in Restaurant Services and placed first, receiving a gold medal,” he said. “He demonstrated techniques used to set a formal fine dining table setting, fold eight napkin folds, and serve a two-course fine dining meal.”

Dr. Webb introduced her two students who are preparing to be police officers, Logan Riley and Anthony Malota. The pair placed first out of 17 teams in the felony traffic stop competition. 

“These students completed this contest with amazing strength and courage and excelled in the written examination and practical exercises that evaluated the contestants’ abilities and knowledge of the field,” Webb said. “It’s impressive how hard both students have worked to achieve their goals. Both should be able to make it to Nationals.”

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Action again delayed on problem properties

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coldspringcitySJNT staff

COLDSPRING — The Coldspring City Council delayed final action against several properties that have been deemed in violation of nuisance ordinance.

Mayor Pat Eversole said two of the properties are in negotiations for sale, and the third is being worked on, but very slowly.

“The Marrs property may be changing hands, and the Angel Dutch property is under negotiations, and we’re waiting on those results,” she said. “The Bass property being tended to, but slowly.

changed leave policy to require doctor’s note and then council deliberation before placing an employee on long-term leave.

In a separate matter, the council gave the owners of El Taquito restaurant  90 days to answer a complaint from its neighbor about trash blowing out of the trash receptacle on to her property. 

In other business, the council:

•discussed the construction of a restroom on the Town Square as a joint venture with county;

•approved a payment of $3,500 for plans for a new concession stand/restroom facility at the youth ballpark;

•discussed a memorandum of understanding with the youth baseball organization for use of the fields;

•approved bid for a new security system for City Hall;

•accepted the results of the 2017 audit; and

•approved the payment of $4,700 to Inframark for water and wastewater services.

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Court discusses pay scales, retention

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — Staffing issues plague the Sheriff’s Office, especially in the Jail, and it’s looking to get worse.

The discussion about paying out accrued leave time for an officer that quit led to a discussion about manning the jail. 

Sheriff Greg Capers said it could cause problems with housing prisoners if more personnel are lost.

Part of the issue is pay; Capers said jailers in San Jacinto County make $4-$5 per hour less than others in the area. 

“If we want people to stay and climb the ladder here, then we need to pay them,” he said.

The commission vowed to look into the matter.

In other business, the court:

• proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month;

• proclaimed March as Red Cross Month;

• approved the conveyance of a portion of a lot in the Point Lookout Estates without a replat;

• approved a settlement agreement with the Texas Opioid Abatement Fund;

• approved a payment method for contract worker Mark Wood;

• approved election judges, appointment of alternate judges and a joint election order for the May 7 election;

• approved renewal of Affordable Care Act reporting and tracking services;

• approved replacing Kimberly Wooley with Elizabeth Caroline Manthey-Weisinger on the Investment Council;

• approved DiAnna Adams as San Jacinto County investment officer;

• approved an agreement with Point Blank Water Stephens Creek Water Supply Inc.;

• approved a lot split for the Stephen Hills Property Owners Association;

• approved the annual racial profiling report for the Constable Sam Houston.

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